Around The Capitol

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THE Nooner for October 24, 2017


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  • GOVadded actor Mavrick von Haug (R)
  • BOE3: added legislative staff member Ben Pak (D)
  • AD38 (Santa Clarita): removed Ben Pak (D)
  • AD61 (Riverside): added John Bassette (R)


GAME ONE: Opening pitch at 5:09 p.m. PITCHERS: On the mound for the visiting Astros--Dallas Keuchel (16-6, 2.87 ERA). On the mound for the Dodgers--Clayton Kershaw (18-4, 2.31 ERA). On the floor: lots of Giants fans. Odds: Dodgers -183. TV: FOX.

My Note: Before I write anything, as I do today, about the governor's race, let me make it clear that I neither support, nor plan to publicly support, nor will contribute to a candidate for governor (or Senate). I respect all four of the leading Democrats for governor. Some days may cast one in a more positive or more negative context, but I spend hours researching facts, and am always contrite and honest when I make a mistake.


HARASSMENT: The LAT's Melanie Mason continues her great coverage of the issues brought forward in the #METOO/#WESAIDENOUGH effort. She writes Senate President Pro Tem Kevin "de León announced Monday he has hired the law office of Amy Oppenheimer to conduct an external investigation into harassment and assault allegations, and the consulting firm CPS HR Consulting to review Senate policies on harassment, discrimination and retaliation."

It is unclear under what authority the hiring was made since the Rules Committee did not have a noticed meeting yesterday and the release from the Pro Tem's office says that the "state Senate has announced the hiring. . ."

Oppenheimer is a respected former state administrative law judge. A cursory search of state political contributions show no direct contributions to candidates, but only the standard contributions to her professional associations. 

The leaders of the drive for signatures on the letter (with has now gathered over 300 signatures) weren't content with the actions.

"To find the truth and rebuild trust, we need a truly independent investigation, not a secretly hand-picked self-investigation," said Adama Iwu, a government affairs director for Visa who spearheaded the campaign. "We need full transparency. How was this firm selected? Who will they report their findings to? What exactly are they investigating? Is the Assembly involved?"

The Chron's Melody Gutierrez writes "The Assembly made no similar announcement. Its rules committee oversees complaints, with serious allegations referred to an outside investigator."

de León has the advantage having a more unified caucus and the knowledge that he likely is out as Pro Tem sooner rather than later because members, as usual, want a leader who is focused on maintaining/growing the membership, rather than raising money for higher office.

CapPubRad's Bob Moffitt reports that now-Mayor Darrell Steinberg states that he didn't "witness" any sexual harassment during his sixteen years in the Capitol. Of course, and I love Darrell, he presided over the Senate Rules Committee in April 2010 when it paid $120,000 in state funds in a secret settlement against former senator Rod Wright, paid to his former district coordinator.

True, you can't "witness" something that happens on Fridays or recess periods in district offices . . .

THE IMPACT? Our friends Politico's Carla Marinucci, David Siders and Candice Norwood ask whether former Superintendent of Public Instruction Delaine Eastin has hit an escalator point in her longshot campaign for governor. They write:

Watch and see today if the former state superintendent of public instruction reprises her calls for aggressive inquiry into sexual harassment in Sacramento. Eastin is the only gubernatorial candidate to haven been tweeting about the subject so far, and she issued a call for action to POLITICO after this weekend's candidate forum at the National Union of Healthcare Workers in Anaheim:

"Almost every woman I know has a story,'' she told us. "Some of them have a dozen stories. ... It's time for the leadership of the Capitol to talk about what we're going to do to obviate it - once and for all."

Eastin called for a full inquiry, an ombudsman, and stronger protections for whistleblowers to address issues. "Certainly, we ought not have the Rules Committee being the arbitrator of whether someone's being abused,'' she said. "There's no incentive for them to shine the bright light on what is an unacceptably toxic environment for a lot of women in the Capitol."

People wonder how personal this campaign could become. Gavin Newsom and Antonio Villaraigosa had high profile affairs, leading to divorce. Eastin is divorced. John Chiang and his wife are separated. Newsom and Villaraigosa have remarried.

Thus, using the "glass houses" test, I don't think the candidates will turn the personal lives of the other candidates--unless sexual harassment allegations (including looking the other way) come forward. Each of them have led large organizations and must be on pins and needles in this environment. Villaraigosa was Speaker of the Assembly, which is clearly under criticism for handling complaints, but only for a little over two years. 

The only question that people are looking into is whether Villaraigosa did enough with the Kevin Shelley situation. Villaraigosa received a confidential report from the Rules Committee after the committee hired the law firm of Kronick, Moskovitz, Tiedmann & Girard to investigate. He then had a conversation with Shelley, reported the Chron. Shelley was elected the new Assembly Majority Leader, #2 under Villaraigosa. 

Even if Rules/Villaraigosa found that Shelley's behavior continued at times (as it was rumored), it's not easy to expel a member. It requires a two-thirds vote of the house, with the members acting as the executioner of a colleague's political career. Democrats had 43 votes and Republicans had 37 votes at the time. To gather two-thirds would have required disclosing the Rules Committee report and waiving attorney-client privilege and getting releases of confidentiality from individual staff members who had complained.

It is not a pretty system, but I don't think this particular issue would stick, even if carried as an independent expenditure and not by one of Villaraigosa's fellow candidates.

NUHW ENDORSEMENT: We've got more details on the National Union of Healthcare Workers endorsement of Gavin Newsom for governor. The first ballot found no candidate with a 50%+1 majority, and so the top two--Newsom and former Superintendent of Public Instruction moved to a second ballot, on which Newsom won 53%. 

CAGOP: CALmatters's Ben Christopher gives a takeaway from last weekend's California Republican Party's fall convention "California’s Republicans may be a party divided between the defenders of the establishment and a more fervent Trumpian wing. But if you were to judge strictly by this past weekend’s gathering in Orange County, that war is over. This is Trump’s party now."

"FREE SPEECH" OR "FAIR SHARE"? The Bee's Adam Ashton looks at the preparations that unions representing public employees are taking ahead of a Supreme Court ruling in Janus v. AFSCME that would prohibit "agency shop" arrangements for public employees. In "agency shop" agreements, unions and employers have agreed that all employees are represented by the union. If an employee is unhappy with non-representation activities, such as political and lobbying expenses, they still must pay "fair share" fees to cover the cost of representation to the employer, for such things as grievances and bargaining. 

Plaintiffs (Petitioner at the SCOTUS level) argue that public sector "agency shop" agreements are unconstitutional under the First Amendment. (It does not directly affect private employer agreements since there is no state actor.)

A similar case deadlocked 4-4 last year. However, Neil Gorsuch is expected to provide the deciding vote against unions, and would cause a real financial hit to unions requiring them to either increase fees dramatically on non-"fair share" employees or scale down activities dramatically. It would affect the 22 states that are not "right-to-work" states.

THE RENT IS TOO DAMN HIGH: Yesterday, proponents of expanding rent control for housing affordability filed a proposed initiative to, reports Liam Dillon in the Times. "The initiative would repeal the landmark Costa-Hawkins Act, a 1995 law that barred rent caps on single-family homes and apartments built after that year. If it passes, local governments would be able to implement rent control on newer properties."

The measure is written stupidly. Initiatives take effect the day after they are approved. Thus, if qualified for the 2018 general election ballot, property owners would have between qualification date and election day to raise rents. Who wrote it without thinking about allowing cities adopting a rent control code to have a rollback, with reasonable market adjustment, to January 1, 2018? 

I'm in a newer rental, but Sacramento doesn't have rent control, so, as of now, it doesn't affect me. But, the initiative is badly constructed.

GENTRIFICATION: Speaking of, in San Francisco Supervisors Hillary Ronen and Malia Cohen (running for BOE2) announced this morning that they are introducing city and county legislation "to protect San Francisco's unique neighborhoods from gentrification." Their release names neighborhoods like Chinatown, the Mission, Japantown, and the Castro. (I watched the wonderful "Milk" again the other night and, ironically, one could argue the Castro was created by a different type of gentrification.)

I've been thinking this a lot lately about the Southside Park neighborhood I live in, originally the most diverse of the central city because non-whites were generally not allowed to own or rent property in the central city until the Civil Rights Act of 1968 (follow-up to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, aka the "Fair Housing Act." Maybe I'll get my larger thoughts down by tomorrow.



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4 Democratic Candidates For Governor To Make Early Appearance On Same Stage - San Francisco Chronicle
Four Democrats looking to replace termed-out Gov. Jerry Brown next year will share a stage in San Francisco on Tuesday, giving voters an unusually early look at the candidates and the themes of the 2018 campaign.

Gavin Newsom Calls For California To Nearly Quadruple Its Annual Housing Production
Liam Dillon @
Gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom says California officials should set a goal to help 3.5 million new homes get built by 2025 to ste...

Trump Attacks Corker Hours Before He Heads To Hill For GOP Unity Effort - Politico
President Donald Trump accused Sen. Bob Corker on Tuesday of working against Republican efforts to pass major tax reform legislation, escalating the feud between the two men hours before the president heads to Capitol Hill in an effort to project unity on taxes and health care.

Steinberg Says He Didn't Witness Sexual Harassment As State Lawmaker -
Bob Moffitt @
Capital Public Radio, Inc.7055 Folsom BoulevardSacramento, CA 95826

Trump's Inaction On Climate Change Carries A Big Price Tag, Federal Report Finds
Evan Halper @
The report released Tuesday from the Government Accountability Office presents a bleak picture in which the economic costs of climate change spiral ever further upward in the coming decades. While the report finds that coordination among federal agencies in confronting climate change has long been inadequate, it now comes at a time when the White House is making an unprecedented retreat on environmental protection.

Gas-tax Supporters Tout Sacramento-area Projects | Opponents Seek Repeal | The Sacramento Bee
Brad Branan @
By Brad Branan

Sought By U.S. Marshals, Rivera Pops Up In Fla. Capitol, Chats With Legislators
But all the feds have to do is be in the state Capitol on Tuesday, where the scandal-plagued Republican was admitted to the Florida Senate floor to rub elbows with former colleagues during the designation ceremony of future state Senate President Bill Galvano. Rivera, a former state and U.S. representative, is running for a state House seat in Miami.

San Quentin Inmates Win Raves With 'ear Hustle' Podcast About Life In Prison

Kid Rock says Senate â

"We’d be actually very interested in his candidacy,” said Steven Law, the president of the Senate Conservatives Fund. “I certainly wouldn’t count him out.”

LAPD Arrests 18 In Day-long Aliso Canyon ‘shut It Down’ Protest Near Porter Ranch – Daily News
Wearing hazmat suits and carrying tombstones, about 100 protesters gathered in Porter Ranch on a windy Monday to demand that Gov. Jerry Brown close the Aliso Canyon gas fields down once and for all because they say it is an ongoing public health risk.

California Housing Advocates Launch Push For Stronger Rent Control | The Sacramento Bee
Angela Hart @
The go-to source for news on California policy and politics

Protester confronts Trump on Capitol Hill

A protester shouted “Trump is treason!” and threw Russian flags in President Trump’s direction as he arrived to meet with lawmakers on Capitol Hill Oct. 24.

Ambulance Fees Could Spike In San Diego Amid Response Time Concerns - The San Diego Union-tribune
David Garrick @

Janus Right To Work Case Could Cost Ca Unions | The Sacramento Bee
Adam Ashton @
Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

Health Officials Say Testing San Diego River For Hep A Would Waste Resources - The San Diego Union-tribune
Joshua Emerson Smith, James DeHaven @

Homeless Gather In Sacramento Court To Fight City's Anti-camping Ordinance | The Sacramento Bee
Cynthia Hubert @
By Cynthia Hubert

Police Union Approves Pay Hikes That Will Push San Diego Into Top Tier - The San Diego Union-tribune
David Garrick @

What do Republicans want to hear from Trump at lunch? A lot.

GOP Senators want to hear about tax reform — and much more — when the president visits the Capitol on Tuesday.

Gun Shows And Firearm Deaths And Injuries | Annals Of Internal Medicine | American College Of Physicians
Disclaimer: The analyses, interpretations, and conclusions of this report are attributable to the authors and not to the California Department of Public Health or National Institutes of Health.